Fla. lawmakers look to protect working pregnant women

House bill passes first committee Tuesday with 1 dissenting vote

Author: Matt Horn, Reporter, Capitol News Service
Published On: Jan 14 2014 04:34:51 PM EST
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

Florida is one state that doesn't currently protect pregnant women in the workplace. Legislation to give workplace protections to those who are expecting is moving through committees in the State Capitol.

It's illegal to fire employees because of their race, sex or other attributes, but not pregnancy.

Florida Democratic Sen. Geraldine Thompson said pregnant women are facing discrimination in the workplace.

"We had one case where a woman worked in a restaurant and during her pregnancy as it advanced, she was told that she was too large to work in the restaurant," said Thompson.

Florida courts have issued different rulings on pregnancy discrimination, which is why Thompson said the law needs to be clarified this session.

"Right now, there's some confusion as to whether discrimination based on pregnancy is prohibited in the state of Florida," said Thompson.

Women's rights activist Barbara DeVane said something should have been done years ago.

"A lot of times it's a single woman who is trying to raise a family, and that's their economic base," said DeVane.

The bill passed a Senate Committee unanimously.

Opponents have argued pregnant women are already covered under the "gender" category, like they are under federal law. Those in support of the Florida proposal say that's not true.

"Federal law is very specific," said DeVane. "It has an amendment to the civil rights law act that adds pregnancy, no discrimination against pregnancy."

With a majority of Republicans in the Florida House and Senate, the bill faces an uphill battle.

The House bill also passed its first committee Tuesday with one dissenting vote.